The Pennsylvania Teaching and Certification Resource
Aspiring teachers looking to obtain a Pennsylvania teacher certification will find the process fairly similar to other states. However, the state does offer quite a few pathways depending on experience and education. The state’s Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality, Division of Certification Services oversees the certification process, which is outlined in detail below.
How to Become a Teacher in Pennsylvania
In order to earn a Pennsylvania teacher certification, applicants must meet certain education and testing requirements. Firstly, all Pennsylvania teachers are required to hold a bachelor’s degree and attend a state-approved teacher education program.
Candidates for teacher certification in Pennsylvania must decide on the type of teaching certificate and subject area for which they plan to teach before applying for certification. Depending on an applicants choice of teaching subjects they may apply for one of the following certificates: Regular Education Instructional I, Regular Education Instructional II, Educational Specialist, Intern, Vocational Education Instructional I, Vocational Education Instructional II, or Vocational Education Intern.
- MS in Education (for Existing Teachers Grades K-12)
- MA in Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers Grades 5-12)
Teachers who have an out-of-state certification may be eligible for Pennsylvania reciprocity provided they meet the remaining criteria. Anyone looking for further information on reciprocity or on Pennsylvania teacher certification renewal process should contact the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Pennsylvania
One of the most important steps towards Pennsylvania teacher certification is completing a teacher education program at an accredited school. There are six regional accreditation agencies, which are overseen by the US Department of Education, that accredit schools across the US . Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) is responsible for accrediting Pennsylvania schools. Aspiring teachers looking to work in the state must confirm that their school of choice is MSA-accredited. Otherwise, they may not be eligible for a Pennsylvania educator certification. Additionally, applicants who are considering online teaching certification must confirm that the school offering the program is also accredited by the corresponding regional accreditation body even when headquartered out of state.
In addition to a regional accreditation, most schools that offer Pennsylvania teachers certification programs will apply for a CAEP accreditation. Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparedness is a newly formed organization through the merger of NCATE and TEAC, two formerly independent accreditation agencies. CAEP will continue with the highly regarded standard of both NCATE and TEAC, which were distinguished markers of rigorous standards within the teacher education sector.
See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Pennsylvania.
- I want to be a teacher in Pennsylvania, but don’t have a degree: Earn an Education Degree
- I want to be a teacher and have a degree, but not in education: Learn about Pennsylvania’s Alternative Certification Process and Programs
- I have a teaching degree and am interested in more education: Learn about Master’s Degree Education Programs or Doctorate Education Programs and Information.
Pennsylvania Teacher Education Requirements
Traditionally, individuals who are pursuing Pennsylvania teachers licensing must complete an approved teacher education program resulting in a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and a recommendation from the institute. During the course of their teacher preparation programs, eligible applicants will have earned at least six credits in the area of college-level Mathematics and six credits in English Literature and Composition. Additionally, beginning in 2011, prospective teachers in the state of Pennsylvania must have a minimum of three credits related to ESL education and nine credits in the area of teaching students with disabilities. Candidates for a teaching license who have a bachelor’s degree or higher in an endorsed content area who have not undergone a traditional teacher preparation program may be eligible for a Pennsylvania teaching certificate through one of the available alternative certification routes.
The Occupational Supply and Demand System projects 6,451 annual job openings in education and library related fields in Pennsylvania through 2018. The National Center of Education Statistics reported 129,708 public school and 24,640 private school teachers employed in Pennsylvania in fall 2008 and 2007 respectively. The average beginning teaching salary, as reported by the National Education Association, is $38,229 and the average overall teaching salary is $60,760, the 12th highest average among US states. The NEA also notes moderate teacher shortages in math, science and special education, especially in rural and inner-city areas. With a growing number of annual job opportunities due to a steadily growing school system, newly certified teachers, especially in elementary education, may experience an increase in employment opportunity throughout the next few years. For information regarding employment opportunities, state budget allocation and education policy, visit the Pennsylvania State Education Association, a local branch of the NEA. For more information regarding state certification procedures, please contact local education and teaching schools and degree programs.
Pennsylvania Teacher Testing Requirements
Pennsylvania requires that all individuals seeking initial instructional certification in the state take and pass the Praxis series of tests in the areas of fundamental content knowledge (i.e. reading, mathematics, and writing) as well as subject-area expertise in the content area they wish to teach. Educational Specialists who are licensed in another area such as school psychology or nursing are exempt from the testing requirement.
Additional Teacher Certification Requirements
Pennsylvania Law states that all applicants for employment in public and private schools undergo background checks. All teaching applicants must submit to a fingerprinting process and be subjected to a state and federal background check before applying for Pennsylvania educator certification. The process may be started by registering through the web-based computer application, “Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History” (PATCH).
Pennsylvania Teaching License Application Process
Once all of the steps to Pennsylvania teacher certification have been completed. Applicants can apply through the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS) or they can send in their documentation through the mail. The following documention should be included:
- Selection of the certification type/subject area
- Verification of bachelor’s degree
- Verification of completed teacher education program
- Submission of Praxis test scores
- Payment of non-refundable processing fees
Division of Certification Services
Pennsylvania Department of Education School Leadership
333 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Visit the state’s Department of Education for further details on teacher certification in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Teacher Salary and Jobs
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Elementary School Teachers||57,460||$57,230|
|Middle School Teachers||21,770||$58,910|
|Secondary School Teachers||52,640||$59,640|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.
Pennsylvania Teacher Interviews
Interview with Trish Nodolski, Pennsylvania Preschool Teacher and Program Director
Interview with Lisa Butler, Pennsylvania Middle School Spanish Teacher
Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in Pennsylvania
Question: How to I become a substitute teacher in Pennsylvania?
Answer: To be a substitute teacher in Pennsylvania, you do not need to be a certified teacher, but you must have a bachelor’s degree. With a degree, you can substitute for up to 20 days in one position. To work for longer than 20 days in the same position, you must get an emergency permit through the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Question: How do I become an elementary school teacher in Pennsylvania?
Answer: To be an elementary teacher in Pennsylvania, you need to have a certificate in elementary education through the state. You must also have a bachelor’s degree and have completed a teacher preparation program. A student teaching experience is also required, as are passing scores on the Praxis exams.
Question: What are the requirements to become a high school teacher in Pennsylvania?
Answer: To become a high school teacher in Pennsylvania, you must be granted a secondary education certificate. This requires that you have a bachelor’s degree and have taken appropriate education coursework along with a student teaching experience in a secondary classroom. You must also pass the Praxis exams.
Page edited by Charles Sipe.
Teaching and Education Programs
- Master of Arts in Education/Curriculum and Instruction
- M.A. in Education/Secondary Teacher Education
- B.S. in Education / Elementary Education
- A.A. in Elementary Education
- And more...
- M.Ed. Teaching & Learning: History
- AA in Education (Non-Licensure)
- CERT: Preschool
- MA Teaching: Middle Grades
- And more...
- Bachelor of Science: Early Childhood Development
- Associate of Applied Science: Early Childhood Development
- Doctor of Management - Graduate Level Instructional Practices
- Doctor of Management - Private Sector Higher Education Leadership
- Education, MS - Teaching and Learning (Online)
- Education, MS (Online)
- Education, MS - Teaching and Learning
- Career College Administration Graduate Certificate
- And more...
1. Pennsylvania State Department of Education: http://www.education.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/pa_certification/8635
2. US Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm#25-0000